Judge declares mistrial for man who confessed to murdering Queens jogger, wishes jury happy holiday

After deliberating just 13 hours over two days, a Queens jury announced that it was deadlocked in the case of jogger Karina Vetrano, who was brutally beaten and raped two years ago before being strangled to death.

The hung jury was announced late Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, resulting in Judge Michael Aloise granting a defense mistrial motion and dismissing the jury,  CBS New York reported.

Chanel Lewis, 22, was accused of attacking Vetrano in August 2016 and dumping her naked body in weeds near a jogging path.

The evidence against Lewis, who pleaded not guilty, included DNA evidence linking him to the crime scene and a recording of him confessing.

Lewis admitted in a taped confession he killed Vetrano, but his lawyers claimed the statement was coerced. His DNA was found on the 30-year-old victim’s neck, under her fingernails and on her cellphone.

“After deliberating for the entire day we are split. It doesn’t seem like we can make progress. We feel that we have exhausted all of our options,” the seven-woman, five-man jury wrote in a note to Judge Aloise, according to the New York Post.

The impasse prompted Lewis’ attorney moved for a mistrial and Aloise unexpectedly granted it, according to The Post.

“Oh my God!” a Vetrano relative cried out.

The Post reported that before wishing jurors a happy holiday, the judge explained why he granted the defense motion.

“I’m inclined to agree, even though it’s only been a day and a half,” Aloise said. “There were extensive deliberations. They covered issues central to the debate.”

Thirteen hours.

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Tom Tillison

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